When study process move online, a variety of challenges arose: how to stay focused and study efficiently as well as how to manage your stress level in this situation. Everyone needs time to adapt to change.
How to have a quiet studying space if you live not alone?
When you do not have access to the library and live in a dorm, or share a room with another person, it can be difficult to create a private space where you are not distracted. Here are some suggestions:
- Coordinate your schedules with the roommate. To prevent the roommate from clattering pots when you are studying, arrange when there is "studying time" in the room. It does not have to be the same for both, but it will let you both know when it’s important to keep quiet. Other schedules, such as cleaning, lunch and shower can help avoid conflicts as well.
- Agree on the rules. When someone of you has a lecture, writes an exam, agree, that others give extra attention not to make any noise. Headphones, or a red sticky note on the bed, can become another way to say, “Do Not Disturb”. Agreements can also include rules for calls or guests - you may agree to take phone calls outside the room only or to receive guests after studying time. Talk openly about what annoys you. One will not be disturbed by others watching TV loudly, the other may be annoyed by a loud breathing. It can be frustrating to start such a conversation but knowing these things will help you avoid silent and loud conflicts.
- Lunch is a great way to foster good relationships! Agree with the person (or people) living with you when you will spend time together. Lunch, dinner, or a game evening will not only allow you to relax from your studies, maintain a friendly relationship, but also meet the need for communication, which is especially important during quarantine.
- Other measures. If you have the opportunity, you can purchase or make a partition to help separate your space from others. They can be hung, built, folded. This will allow you to create your own personal room in the room. Noise canceling headphones can also be a great purchase for those who are sensitive to ambient noises.
How to Maintain Efficiency during Distance Learning
- Important! Work at a desk and by no means in a bed.
- Start and finish learning at a predetermined time, take breaks. This will keep you productive and you will not get tired.
- Have an agenda and stick to it. It will help to solve motivation-related issues.
- Limit your time for reading news and checking social media. Read only trustworthy sources.
- We do not know what tomorrow will bring us, so focus on what you can do today.
- It is normal to feel worried about the virus. However, if it is too much to handle on your own, seek the help of psychologists: contact VU psychologist, krizesiveikimas.lt (phone: +370 640 51555 working hours: I-V 16-20, VI 12-16) and jaunimolinija.lt (phone: +370 800 28888).
- Maintain social contacts (remotely, of course). Everyone needs support and communication, especially now.
We also encourage you to get acquainted with:
How to access documents in your VU Library's user profile?
If you have ever used the computers in the Library and stored some necessary documents in your VU user profile, don’t worry – there is no need to come to the Library in person in order to retrieve them. You can access them from home simply by following these instructions.
How to Effectively Write a Thesis
We understand that after the beginning of distant learning, you have a lot of questions about how all of this will affect the writing and defense of your thesis. We hope that most of the answers have already reached you If you still have unanswered questions and are experiencing anxiety greater than most of your friends and others around you, here are some recommendations.
- Check your university email. We know that checking university email is probably not a daily habit. However, during this period all the instructions for writing the final thesis are sent there, as well as instructions for remote defense. So, if you feel worried about not knowing something, check there first.
- Contact your supervisor if it fails, contact the administration. The supervisor is your main guide when writing your thesis. Yes, this situation is also new to him, he may not know all the answers, but he will advise where to get them. If you have problems communicating with the supervisor, contact your faculty administration.
- You do not have to write the whole thesis before showing it to the supervisor. You may be scared that you have not done "enough" to show it to your supervisor. However, writing a thesis is part of the learning process, so it is normal not to understand something, feel stuck or unsure, if it is written well. This requires a supervisor to help in such situations. Contact him or her.
- If your supervisor writes you a letter or calls you, answer. No matter how bad it is. First, it will let him know that you are alive and well. Second, we want to help you overcome all difficulties and defend your thesis. Even if you have not started writing yet, you still have time, so take advantage of it and dare to ask for help.
- Theoretical work in science is just as important as empirical. If you had to change your empirical research into a theoretical one and the primary vision of your thesis cannot be realized, you are likely to feel frustrated, feel injustice. Pay more attention to substantiate the relevance of the topic, describe the problem, perform a more detailed literature analysis. Consult your supervisor for the best result. Theoretical work can open up new possibilities. In the future you will be able to do a better empirical research in master’s or doctoral studies!
- Use calls and video chats to communicate. You may be accustomed to communicating with your supervisor via email. However, in this period when there is no opportunity to meet face-to-face, such communication may not be very effective, as it increases the likelihood of misunderstandings. Letters are suitable for file-sharing, technical notes. Debatable questions and comments in your thesis are best clarified by calling. If necessary, explain to your supervisor how to use Ms Teams, Zoom, or other platforms. Call your supervisor at least once a week.
- Take advantage of electronic library resources. VU library has opened home access to even more databases where you can find both articles and books. If you cannot find all the necessary material you need, contact the subject librarians. All information about library services can be found here.
- Leave some time for the supervisor to read your thesis. Remember that professors have several students who need their advice, so they have to divide their time for each of you. To get enough attention for your thesis, send it in parts. Indicate what you have changed, so that the supervisor does not have to read the same thing a second time. Send the final version at least a few days before submitting the work unless you have agreed otherwise.
- A well-prepared working environment will help you concentrate and maintain productivity. Covid-19 situation require adaptation from everyone, so it is normal that things are not as they were. That include decreased productivity levels. It will be easier to concentrate if you create a working environment: maintain a similar rhythm of the day as much as possible, have a place, time and even clothes for work. Productivity-enhancing tools, such as the free Ms Office 365 apps available here, also increase productivity.
How to Finish the Final Thesis and Prepare for the Defence
- Consult your supervisor regarding the effects of Covid-19 situation on writing and defending of your work, and you will feel less anxious about the unknown.
- Be patient. This situation is new, so even with all our efforts, we will not avoid problems.
- Write your thesis as well as you can. Focus not on what you have not done yet, but what you can really do with the time and resources you have.
- Leave enough time for technical work and find out the new procedure for uploading your thesis to the IS and whether it will be necessary to print out the paper.
- Talk to your supervisor about what to do if a technical problem occurs due to the Internet connection, sound, or other unexpected situation during your presentation.
What to Consider before Defending the Thesis
Prepare for a remote defense just as you would for a usual one. While there may be a feeling that remote defense will be simpler than defense eye-to-eye (e.g., it is enough to put on a shirt because training pants will not be visible), we suggest not to give in to this illusion.
- Make a defense rehearsal. Once you get your thesis done, start preparing for the defense. Assemble a group of classmates and join the platform where the defenses will take place (the faculty will inform you about this and other details of the defense procedure). Each present your work and, let others ask questions. This will provide an opportunity not only to hear possible questions from the committee, but also to test your equipment: whether the microphone, camera, other necessary functions are working.
- Before your thesis defense, find out what the procedure is. E.g., what should you do in case there are technical problems?? Be sure to take part in an internet connection testing organized by the faculty before the defense if it will be organized. You will receive all this information to the university e-mail, so be sure to check it out.
- On the day of defense:
- Dress neatly (what if you have to stand up and go to get a glass of water?)
- Appear at the defense at least 10 minutes early to deal with possible technical problems.
- As you speak, lift your eyes to the camera from time to time, speak into the microphone. When you turn away from the camera, you are less audible. Remember that listening to a person who is always looking at the computer screen is no less difficult than listening to someone who is reading from a sheet during the entire defense.
- Make sure that you are alone in the room during the defense and that those close to you do not disturb you.
- Look around and assess what the defense commission will see and hear from your side. Tidy up the room, agree with the people you live with not to vacuum the rooms or watch football matches at that time.
- Have everything you need nearby: a pen, your notes, a glass of water, and all the files you may need to share on your desktop.
- Remember that the defense committee is in good faith. Everyone knows the circumstances under which thesis had to be written and will consider the impact of Covid-19 situation on your writing process.
How to Maintain Motivation when Working from Home
The changed situation will require a lot of energy to understand how to reorganise your work and leisure, so be patient. Once the rhythm of the day has stabilised, you will be able to start planning your work.
First of all, ask yourself if your motivation has fallen due to the stress caused by the Covid-19 situation. Family or relationship issues, as well as financial problems can have an impact on your learning, and also lead to health-damaging ways when dealing with strong emotions. If you notice an increase in psychoactive substances consumption, a decreas in sleep, changes in your appetite (decreased or increased), as well as if you become extremely irritable or experience severe stress – be sure to seek help from a family doctor or psychologist (contact by email or phone +370 5 268 72 54). In case of financial difficulties due to Covid-19 situation, you can apply for financial support from the University: .
If you lack motivation due to the chaos caused by Covid-19 situation rather than by serious financial and psychological issues, remember that habits help stay motivated. When you have a well-established schedule for studying or work, your brain gets used to schedule; therefore, it becomes easier to concentrate and stay away from or ignore external distractions.
Start small: engage in one regular activity, such as eating three times a day at the same time. In a few days, when it becomes a habit, you will be able to add new things. Dedicate a couple of hours to review the lecture material after eating breakfast and a couple of hours to do homework after lunch. After that, you will be able to add other activities on top.